A well-organised event that ticks a lot of boxes. Showcases big gun heritage acts as well as up-and-coming raw talent. Improved Transport links. Ticket prices that are hard to beat for a decent line-up.
Tramlines have an unusual demographic that is almost a perfect split between teenagers and over-35s. That is partly to do with the lineup and partly due to the fact the Sheffield events still attracts mostly locals from the city as well as the surrounding towns and villages. You have the faithful that has been attending the event since its free days in the city centre crawl to the new fresh-faced, coming-of-age indie kids that are here for one reason, The Courteeners.
This year the organisers renamed its Main Stage in memory of the festivals late Festival Director, Sarah Nulty, who passed away just three weeks before the events 10th Anniversary in 2018. It was a fitting tribute to Sarah who had the vision for Tramlines outgrowing its city centre home from a free event to a fully-fledged festival.
This year we were offered a mixed bag from old favourites to discovering new gems. The likes of Manic Street Preachers, Johnny Marr, Doves, Futureheads, Peter Hook and Sleeper found us reminiscing and reliving our youth, even remembering the records our parents used to play. Red Rum Club, Shame, Himalayas, The Reytons and Anteros, on the other hand, bursting with raw talent, fresh, new and loud bands.
The Transports links this year where excellent, we used a mixture of Trams, Buses and Taxis. It was a massive improvement from the previous year, but the organisers can be forgiven as the Tram strike wasn’t ideal during the 2018 event. The Trams can be caught to and from the Train Station as well as the city centre where you can continue the party after the event. Buses were about a 5-minute walk from the festival site and again could be caught to the city centre.
Indie dominates Tramlines, but it’s hard to argue with the draw of indie rock. Blokes with guitars still pull the crowds in great numbers shifting tickets, selling out events. In a world where festivals are making promises for 50% female line ups, it’s must be difficult for organisers and promoters when blokes with guitars make you money! Tramlines did try to offer up some balance in the line up with Saturday on t’Other Stage dedicated to female-fronted acts, as well as the likes of She Drew The Gun and Sleeper on the main stage.
Every year Tramlines seems to be distancing itself from the fringe events that are hosted in Sheffield’s city centre. This year the existing partnership with local venue The Leadmill continued with them cultivating and naming a stage, as well as hosting the “official” fringe after parties.
Overall, Tramlines is an enjoyable event, it’s well organised but it just lacks that special something. It’s close enough to the city to feel like the metropolitan event of days gone by and it could never feel like a fully-fledged festival as long as it’s at its current home, Hillsborough. I’d like to see something a bit different on the line up next year, this year (and last years) line up is just too familiar with every festival, every year. For one of the fastest-growing festivals in the UK I’d like to see them lead the way and take a risk or two when it comes to the line-up, reflect the eclectic taste, personality and atmosphere of the Steel City!
The organisers have done a brilliant job in growing the event over the years from small local venues to 40,000 at Hillsborough Park. Now we welcome a new era, Superstruct! We hope they continue to find a balance between local and national event.